Hitchens versus Vidal
I usually read Spencer Ackerman's blog posts because he's witty and wise. Today he linked to a Christopher Hitchens piece on H's former friend Gore Vidal. Hard to imagine egos of their size fitting into any public facility short of a football stadium. For a time I admired Vidal's courage but soon enough I came to see him as a singularly arrogant elitist, much like his arch enemy Wm Buckley, whose portentous verbal mannerisms covered up a trite and inane mind. I also once liked Hitchens for his courage, too. But he turned right abruptly following 9/11 and trumpeted the Iraq war. The hell of it is Hitchens has a first-rate mind in matters ranging from politics to art to popular culture. I still read him and think he's brilliant from time to time. Except when he puts on that old pith-helmet and plays John Wayne (who was after all a draft-dodger).
Spencer Ackerman summed up the Hitchens vs. Vidal piece this way (accurately): "The best case of un-self-conscious projection on the internet at the moment."
Here's a sample.
"I was fortunate enough to know Gore a bit in those days. The price of knowing him was exposure to some of his less adorable traits, which included his pachydermatous memory for the least slight or grudge and a very, very minor tendency to bring up the Jewish question in contexts where it didn’t quite belong. One was made aware, too, that he suspected Franklin Roosevelt of playing a dark hand in bringing on Pearl Harbor and still nurtured an admiration in his breast for the dashing Charles Lindbergh, leader of the American isolationist right in the 1930s. But these tics and eccentricities, which I did criticize in print, seemed more or less under control, and meanwhile he kept on saying things one wished one had said oneself. Of a certain mushy spiritual writer named Idries Shah: “These books are a great deal harder to read than they were to write.” Of a paragraph by Herman Wouk: “This is not at all bad, except as prose.” He once said to me of the late Teddy Kennedy, who was then in his low period of red-faced, engorged, and abandoned boyo-hood, that he exhibited “all the charm of three hundred pounds of condemned veal.” Who but Gore could begin a discussion by saying that the three most dispiriting words in the English language were “Joyce Carol Oates”? In an interview, he told me that his life’s work was “making sentences.” It would have been more acute to say that he made a career out of pronouncing them."
For the rest go here: